The main victim of an “Olympian” fraudster who was ordered to pay back £38.6 million after conning millionaire investors in one of the largest private prosecutions in England, has said he has been robbed of 15 years of his life.
Ketan Somaia, who is currently serving an eight-year prison term at high-security Belmarsh prison, was ordered to repay the huge sum under a Confiscation Order at the Old Bailey on Tuesday (12).
Somaia was found guilty of conning two businessmen out of loans in 1999 and 2000, which were never repaid. If he fails to comply with the biggest-ever confiscation order of its kind, he faces a prison sentence of 16 years which will be added to his current sentence.
The prosecution was brought privately by Murli Mirchandani, who was one of the victims targeted by the 53-year-old Somaia.
Mirchandani said: “This is a bittersweet victory. My fight for justice has robbed me of 15 years of my life. There are no words to describe the betrayal that my family and I have suffered at the hands of a callous man who claimed to be my friend.
“While today brings some form of closure, it remains to be seen whether Ketan Somaia will comply with the Confiscation Order or face an additional 16 years in prison.”
Judge Richard Hone QC made the order, ruling that £18.2m would go to Mirchandani and £20.4m into the public purse.
Somaia defrauded businessman Mirchandani by deceiving him into making multiple wire transfers with an accumulative value of £12.25m, which has an equivalent value today of over £18m.
In his ruling, the judge said: “Ketan Somaia has to be described as a formidable and serial fraudsman on a truly Olympian scale.”
He added that it was “quite clear that Somaia was in receipt of significant sums and his lifestyle continued to be lavish until he was imprisoned in July 2014”.
The conman spent £100,000 on a lavish wedding for his daughter, and enjoyed a celebrity lifestyle, eating at exclusive restaurants and staying at luxury hotels.
He hid assets through third parties, used offshore accounts and made a £40,000 loan to a family friend.
Despite claiming in court that all the money had gone, evidence showed Somaia owned two properties held in the names of third parties worth more than £1m.
Kenya-born Somaia, who was dubbed “King Con”, had lived in the UK since 2009 but never paid any tax in this country – claiming he was not sure of his status here – or elsewhere in the past decade.
The trial heard how Somaia did not invest or repay the money he borrowed from Mirchandani and Dilip Shah, but instead used it for his own purposes or to prop up his ailing business empire.
Mirchandani had pursued justice at the Old Bailey at significant financial cost to himself and despite suffering from ill-health, the court heard.
He added: “The theft of $19.5 million by Ketan Somaia from me has had a devastating effect on my life, my health, my business, and regrettably, on my family. For many years we believed that we would never see Mr Somaia brought to justice and pay for what he has done.”
In June last year, Somaia was finally convicted of nine counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception totalling £13.5m. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in July.